Esteban Hernández
CEO
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Auto Safe, Advanced Technology Needed to Face New Weapons

By Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 05/18/2020 - 17:57

Q: What is Auto Safe’s distinctive armoring offering?

A: We are a mix between German armoring technology, Colombian armoring experience and Mexican craftsmanship. Colombia has a well-equipped armoring capacity but a very unorthodox process. Germany, on the other hand, is very skilled in working directly with OEMs such as Audi or BMWa. Armoring relies to a certain extent on craftsman, given the industry’s low volumes. As a result, attention to detail is in the hands of the person working on the vehicle, which is where we find Mexico excels. The mix of these three elements is what has made us what we are.

We have three main business segments: OEMs, government and aftermarket, including heavy-vehicle armoring. Our specialty is luxury vehicles both for OEMs and the aftermarket segment. We work across different segments of what is called nonmilitary armoring. We have a wide range of services, starting with Protect Me, our most recent brand that protects our customers from all projectiles used by common thieves in urban areas. We manage different levels of armoring to stop even fragmentation grenades and barret projectiles.

Protect Me was born from material developments for ballistic products, which opens new opportunities for us. We had many people interested in protecting themselves but faced restrictions due to the kind of vehicle that can be armored. Now, with armoring that weighs around 150kg and protects passengers from a 9mm gun, a 45mm automatic, a .380 gun, a .357 Magnum and even a submachine gun, the range of vehicles eligible for armoring widens. We can even armor a medium-sized vehicle with a four-cylinder engine. Given the versatility of the armor, you can take it directly to the dealership for maintenance, so it becomes more user friendly. 

Q: What is the aftersales service scheme for an armored vehicle? 

A: Armoring is one of the greatest interventions you can perform on a vehicle and aftersales service plays a key role in maintaining its performance. We have service centers in Toluca, Mexico City and Cancun and we also offer remote support. In terms of warranty, we maintain the vehicle’s original policy depending on the brand and model. 

There is also a used market of armored vehicles. Clients normally change their car every five years. In our case, we promise our customers that we will repurchase their car at market value, including the armoring costs and the warranty period. 

Q: What strategic partnerships has Auto Safe created with OEMs? 

A: Our partnerships with OEMs have been in South America. We worked with Toyota in Colombia to produce 1,000 level III armored units of the Toyota Prado at the OEM’s plant. This was a unique circumstance because armoring usually does not take place at the plant level. In Brazil, we also participated in an armored Fiat Linea, but due to consumer preferences the project did not go further. 

Q: What are Auto Safe’s plans for 2020? 

A: We are not betting solely on numbers. We are betting on the quality of our product and the launch of new solutions such as Protect Me. With Protect Me we are targeting a population segment that was traditionally beyond our scope, meaning the children of senior managers. The trend in the market is to lower costs to get as many clients as possible. In our case, functionality and quality remain key. We offer an integral armoring package with features such as reinforced bumpers, protection in the wheels and brake system and a special suspension system. 

Our greatest competition are actually the criminals using new weapons. For example, there is a gun that can penetrate ballistic fibers used in bulletproof vests. Those fibers are used in armored cars, so we had to develop a new kind of armoring to combat these new weapons. In this case, we developed a III-AP level armoring that can protect the vehicle from this weapon. 

 

Auto Safe is a Mexican company and part of WBA Security Group. The company was established in Mexico in 1999 and has integrated the armoring experience of Colombia, Germany and Mexico into a broad product offering aimed at different segments

Photo by:   Autosafe
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst